Enrique Arrundell, former Venezuelan ambassador to Nigeria (Source: Venezuela foreign ministry, via Flickr)
PDVSA has won dismissal of a case in US federal district court in which a podunk front company in Nigeria was trying to put the Venezuelan state oil company on the hook for as much as $600 million.
Francisco Javier González, head of Arevenca, with Suriname President Desi Bouterse (Source: Arevenca.com)
The case is long and contorted and I’m not going to spend all day trying to sum it up. I wrote it up here and then I wrote another note here when I found out that the Nigerian company was actually a front for Lucky Igbinedion, the former governor of Edo state who since leaving office has spent most of his time fighting off corruption charges and pleading guilty to money laundering. I also gave you a little window into Enrique Arrundell, the one-time Venezuelan ambassador to Nigeria who, from the looks of it, was a dick to his employees when not busy telling his Nigerian friend Igbinedion to give money to Arevenca, the world’s foremost supplier of nonexistent petroleum.
Chief Lucky Igbinedion, former governor of Edo state, Nigeria. (Source: pointblanknews.com)
But yours for no extra charge, here’s the judge’s decision. It’s a pulp novel all by itself. If you, like me, enjoy a good narrative, you might want to download this and give it a read. The word that jumps out at me throughout is “not.” As in, things are “not” as they seem.
Skanga’s primary shareholder was Chief Lucky N. Igbinedion (“Igbinedion”). Igbinedion was the Governor of Nigeria’s Edo State at that time.… Skanga had not engaged in any commercial transactions with any entity before the alleged transactions that led to this litigation.… The website does not describe Arevenca as an oil company, or disclose any relationship with PDVSA.… Imoukhuede does not suggest that there was any discussion of Arevenca at the meeting.… The letter does not refer to Arevenca. PDVSA did not respond.… The purported agreement was not documented.… The Certificate of Quality is likewise a fabricated document. Skanga does not argue otherwise.… The wire receipts, however, do not reflect a payment of $1.4 million, but instead reflect two transactions of November 10, 2006, of $580,000 and $470,000, respectively, for a total of $1.05 million. The owner of the numbered account listed on the wire transfers has not been identified.… because he did not have the funds to pay the $2.8 million in freight charges, he obtained a “loan” from a Nigerian company named “M.R.S. Oil & Gas Ltd.” (“M.R.S.”) to make the December 2006 freight payment. The 2006 and 2007 annual corporate filings for M.R.S. reported that the company had not commenced business and had current assets of less than $12,000.… The two purported shipments did not arrive in Nigeria.… “Venezuelan diplomats [are not] empowered in any way to speak on behalf of PDVSA or its affiliates.”
And the key paragraph, dismissing all claims against PDVSA, Arevenca and Francisco Javier González Álvarez:
PDVSA’s April 17, 2014 motion to dismiss Skanga’s claims against PDVSA is granted. The claims against defendants Arevenca and González are dismissed for failure to prosecute. The Clerk of Court shall close the case.
Enjoy! That link again.
PS (updating): PDVSA’s vigorous, successful defense in this case comes in contrast to some other cases I could mention.